Pottawattamie County takes ownership of Mt. Crescent
According to the board’s news release, the local attraction was officially transitioned to the county from private owners Korby and Samantha Fleischer on Dec. 30.
Supervisor Justin Schultz told 6 News that the $3.5 million deal — years in the making — was covered the land and the business, with the county ultimately using American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover its share and the Iowa West Foundation putting down $1.4 million on the deal.
The supervisors did their homework, Schultz said, making sure ARPA funds can be used for things like recovering the loss of tourism.
Schultz said the purchase is part of a bigger plan to acquire the entire bluff in the Hitchcock Nature Center.
Iowa West is also covering the cost of a feasibility study for the property. Schultz said the study will give the county a better idea about how the land might best be used.
Meanwhile, the county is considering revamping the houses, turning them into little overnight cottages, and may build an RV park or even a new lodge that could host weddings.
Iowa West President and CEO Brenda Mainwaring noted in Tuesday’s news release how the pandemic has increased the value of outdoor activities.
“The last two years have reminded us just how important outdoor recreational spaces are to our communities,” she said. “By providing the additional support needed to make this transition a reality, we know that the county can continue to support conservation and recreation in our region for years to come.”
The Fleischers will continue to manage the recreational area through the current ski season, with the county taking assuming full responsibility for the property this summer.
“Once management of the property has fully transitioned to the county, the county may begin exploring the feasibility of further recreational development of the area,” the release states.
Schultz says the county will not run the recreation area but will instead lease it out to a third party.
Mark Shoemaker, executive director for the Pottawattamie County Conservation Board, noted in the release that the acquisition will ensure the protection of a local natural resource.
“This agreement not only supports four-season recreational opportunities for the residents of our County and beyond, but also expands the preservation of one of the world’s most unique and fragile natural resources, the Loess Hills of Western Iowa. This project is an achievement on multiple levels.”
The Fleischers expressed gratitude to the community and support for the transition.
“We have been lucky and blessed to have the opportunity to operate a popular ski area for the past 13 years and to be surrounded by dedicated staff, wonderful ski and snowboard enthusiasts, and the best volunteer Ski Patrol around,” they said in the statement. “We are confident and excited that Pottawattamie County will protect and expand upon what our family has worked so hard to create.”
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